More from Books

The Circus

The Circus by Noel Daniel You’d have to be a strong man yourself just to lift this amazing collection of photographs and circus posters. It covers the years 1870 to 1950 and is quite eye-watering. Buy this book and you’ll never have to watch television ever again. You sir, the man at the back in

Our modest contribution

St Petersburg and the British: The City Through the Eyes of British Visitors and Residents by Anthony Cross To early English visitors St Petersburg seemed an ‘abstract’, artificial city with no roots in the past. It was the creation of one man, Peter the Great, determined to replace Moscow as the capital of his empire

His finest hour

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning by John Lukacs Nine years ago the American historian, John Lukacs, published an excellent little book, Five Days in London: May 1940. In this he analysed in detail that critical moment in the history of the Second World War — perhaps indeed in the history of Western

Muddying the waters

This fitfully involving, but for the most part irritating, melodrama is Tim Parks’s 14th novel, and not one of his best. Set almost entirely in India, it begins with the funeral of one Albert James, a trailblazing anthropologist whose elliptical, wide-ranging theories never really took root, and it ends with the death of his widow,

Really not happy at all

Bits of Me are Falling Apart by William Leith Some years ago, a young scribbler named William Leith began a column for the Independent on Sunday that divided opinion among readers and, indeed, other young scribblers like me. Instead of writing about the world outside, as columnists had previously felt obliged to, he wrote about

In his own words

Ever Dirk: The Bogarde Letters by John Coldstream (editor) The art of letter-writing being in terminal decline and with precious little romance in emails or mobile-phone texts, this fascinating collection of Dirk Bogarde’s letters is a rare gift to those who think nostalgically of a less mechanical way of life. Puffing on 60 cigarettes a

The great deception continues

Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of New China by Philip Pan In 1952 the 20-year-old Maoist fanatic, Lin Zhao, ordered that a Chinese landlord be immersed in a vat of icy water overnight. She said this filled her with ‘cruel happiness’. Later she wrote to a friend about how she had

Life and Letters | 23 August 2008

Ten, eleven weeks ago I had an email from Simon Gray to say that the tumour on his lung hadn’t grown; so he was all right till his next scan in four months time. Now he is dead and I wonder if they didn’t tell him the truth then, or if the thing took a